It was a good weekend for most visiting clubs in first leg matches of the first round of the CAF Champions League as six away teams returned home with a victory. Four games ended in a draw, with defending champions ES Setif surprisingly amongst those who failed to register a win.
Game of the week
Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 TP Mazembe
The match in Pretoria was the third time the two teams have met in the Champions League and once again the four-time champions from Congo DR failed to find the back of the net. The South African champions though, left it very late in the game to find the goal that gave them a slight advantage ahead of the return in Lubumbashi. Zimbabwean international striker Khama Billiat was the hero for the home fans as he scored from close range with just four minutes remaining. The visitors, who had veteran Robert Kidiaba in goals as new signing Sylvain Gbohouo had an operation for a knee injury, had earlier been reduced to 10 men after Kabaso Chongo was sent off for a rough challenge on Anthony Laffor a few minutes before the break.
Real Banjul 1-1 ES Setif
Clubs from Gambia have not played a very significant part in the Champions League and never in the history of the competition has a team from the smallest country on mainland Africa managed to make it into the second round of qualifying. Particularly when the country's champions Real Banjul were drawn against defending champions ES Setif most thought the outcome was a foregone conclusion. But it was not to be as Modou Jallow gave the home side the lead shortly after the break and even though Mohamed Bouchar levelled matters in the 72nd minute, the draw leaves Real Banjul fans hoping for more.
The weekend's top headline went to Nigerian striker Ighodaro Osaguona, who scored his third goal in as many games as former winners Raja Casablanca won 1-0 in Durban against South African club Kaizer Chiefs. Tunisian giants Esperance sent a message to the rest of the field with a 5-0 thumping in Togo against AC Semassi, while the most successful club in the history of the competition - Al Ahly of Cairo with eight titles - had Emad Meteab to thank for a 2-0 victory after the icon opened the scoring in the second half in Rwanda against APR, with Walid Soliman doubling their tally. Both Sudanese clubs still involved in the competition enjoyed good victories, with two-time finalists Al-Hilal securing a comfortable 4-0 win against Malawi's Big Bullets, while Al-Merrikh won 2-0 over Angolan club Kabuscorp, who are being linked with former FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldinho.
Champions League rookies SM Sanga Balende secured a valuable away draw at Coton Sport. Even though they were reduced to 10 men after the break, when Mukoko Barezadio received his second booking, the Congo DR side had opportunities to win the game in Cameroon. They came close late in the second half when Musema Ngowa blasted over the bar, while Kayembe Mukendi failed to beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation in stoppage time. Former Marseille midfielder Jean-Santos Muntubila, who coaches the club, said the scoreless match was a good result. “Everything is still achievable for us.”
Player of the week
Zambian international Justine Zulu is obviously a man for important goals. In ZESCO United's preliminary round matches against Mbabane Swallows the striker scored both goals for his side as they advanced to the first round courtesy of a 2-1 aggregate win. Against Guinean club AS Kaloum the Zambians were staring defeat in the face, but again Zulu came to their rescue, scoring a 1-1 equaliser in stoppage time.
The stat 3 –The number of games that the defending champions ES Setif have drawn in a row in the competition. The Algerian club drew twice in the two-legged final against AS Vita Club last year and were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Banjul in their first match as holders.
What they said
"We are going back to Casablanca very comfortable, but there is still a lot to play for. I think it is still open, and we still have the second half to go," Raja Casablanca coach Jose Romao, whose side won 1-0 in South Africa against Kaizer Chiefs.
Have your say
Can Real Banjul cause another upset in Algeria against the defending champions ES Setif and become the first club from The Gambia to advance to the second round of qualifying in the competition?